What We've Accomplished So Far

Here is a timeline of events so far.

“Had it not been for the swift action of this group, there is every chance that these buildings would have been destroyed before legal proceedings were brought to identify the issues that will be decided in this application.” - Judge David Corbett

  • October 22, 2020: The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark, issues a Minister's Zoning Order (MZO) for Lot 17/26 in the West Don Lands, the site of the former Dominion Wheel & Foundry company. The zoning order allows for three tall towers to be erected, but makes no mention of the fate of the four Heritage buildings on the site. Residents are alarmed and begin to organize, writing letters to Premier Ford and his Ministers, meeting with local City Councillors and MPPs, and publicizing issue social media. 

  • January 2021: Neighbours observe moderate activity on site (trucks driven in and out, personnel in visibility vests, people climbing buildings).

  • January 14, 2021: Heavy demolition equipment arrives. When asked what they were doing, a crew member says they are getting rid of all the buildings: "everything has to be gone by March". No City officials, City Councillors, or local MPPs were aware of these intentions. We learned that the Province does not require a demolition permit as the property is on Crown Lands and subject to an MZO. Local residents begin actively protesting via social media as Friends of the Foundry (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram) and start a petition. Local politicians and City officials work together with and for the community. 

  • January 18, 2021: The demolition company, QM Environmental, begins to break down the building at the northwest corner of the site (153 Eastern Ave), the old foundry. Residents from the buildings nearby and then from adjacent neighbourhoods rush to the scene, calling for the workers to stop. The media arrives. Local politicans arrive. The workers stop for the day. The petition reaches more than 7,000 signatures.

  • January 19, 2021: First news media arrive at 5:30am. Protesters and local politicians arrive soon after. Crew arrives at 7am to continue demolition. Protesters maintain a presence throughout the day, holding home made signs and voicing their displeasure.

  • January 20, 2021: Crews continue to work. Protesters begin meeting at noon each day to demonstrate. Mayor John Tory makes a statement, condemning the hurried demolition. Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam tweets that the "affordable housing" portion of what's going up at the Foundry site is laughably insignificant compared to the Ford government's "1,000 affordable housing units" talking point. Friends of the Foundry starts a fundraising campaign to pursue a legal strategy to stop demolition. The petition passes 16,000 signatures. Lots of media attention (CBC, CBC Radio, CTV, Global, CityTV, CP24 and 680News) including a Toronto Star editorial that lays out perfectly our opposition points to the government. 

  • January 21, 2021: The St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association files an injunction to stop demolition work at the Foundry site. The application is heard late in the day; the judge denies the temporary injunction but Minister Steven Clark agrees to "pause" the demolition until a hearing the following Wednesday. The demonstrations pause until Wednesday.

  • January 27, 2021: We have a preliminary hearing in court. The SLNA lawyers are assisted by the City Legal Department, as respondent. The judge indicates he will not make a decision until January 29, but requests that the province voluntarily continue their pause in demolition until then. Peaceful demonstrations at noon each day resume. There are another two excellent columns in the Star by Shawn Micallef and Matt Elliott.

  • January 29, 2021: Justice Corbett issues a temporary halt to the demolition on the Foundry site. While this gives the Doug Ford-battered heritage buildings in our much beloved West Don Lands community a temporary reprieve, the fight is long from being over. We are grateful to the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association for this dogged fight, and their efforts were cited by Judge David Corbett in his findings. A full hearing is scheduled for February 26.
  • February 2, 2021: The matter is brought before Toronto City Council who vote 21-1 in favour of a motion calling on the province to stop demolition and start consultation. The Mayor as well as may Councillors speak warmly in favour of the motion.

  • February 12, 2021: 25 days after beginning the attempt at demolition, the Province launches a web page inviting people to email their comments on the site.
  • February 22, 2021: The hearing is adjourned (postponed) to give all parties more time to come to some kind of resolution. If they can’t reach a resolution, another court date will be set and the hearing will proceed.

  • February 24, 2021: The St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association and the West Don Lands Committee combine their 2 x 30 minute "consultation" meeting time with the Province to allow a group of eminent architects and urban planners present demonstration ideas that show how heritage can be preserved while density achieved on the site.